Duty Counsel

Lawyers that are available to provide initial legal advice and assistance to unrepresented people appearing before criminal or youth courts. Generally, an accused person can spend some time with duty counsel before their hearing to learn about the nature of the charges and expected process. Duty counsel can speak to the Crown before the hearing to explore a negotiated plea or mitigating circumstances. Counsel may also plead with the Judge for release pending trial or an adjournment pending formal legal representation. However, duty counsel lawyers cannot represent a client at trial. The services of duty counsel are free and available to anyone without formal application and regardless of financial circumstances. Individuals going to trial who cannot afford legal representation must make an application for a legal aid lawyer.

 

Services

The Criminal Law Advice Duty Counsel is a service run out of the John Sopinka Courthouse. The program gives advice and assistance on criminal law matters for people who are not in court the day they attend the centre.

The Family Advice Duty Counsel is a service run out of the Family Law Information Centre. The program gives advice and assistance on family law matters for people who are not in court the day they attend the centre .

Hamilton Family Duty Counsel Office of Legal Aid Ontario; a publicly funded agency of the Government of Ontario which provides a continuum of high quality services to low income Ontarians in the areas of criminal law, family, child protection law, refugee law and mental health law. 

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